Information seeking behaviour and dissemination by the leadership of COSATU affiliated unions in the uMgungundlovu District.
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The purpose of the study was to identify and get a better understanding of the crucial aspects of information seeking behaviour and information dissemination by the leadership of unions affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and by so doing, assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the mechanisms employed by these unions and the challenges associated with utilising these mechanisms. The researcher undertook a post-positivist approach. In this approach both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were used. Instruments used for data collection in terms of quantitative data were questionnaires with open and closed questions, while in terms of qualitative data, semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted. A sample size of 120 union leaders was surveyed from 12 affiliates. Three unions withdrew from the study and nine remained comprising 90 surveyed union leaders. A total of 71 respondents from the 90 surveyed union leaders participated giving a response rate of 78.8%. A total of 18 respondents were interviewed, two from each of the nine union. The validity and reliability of the instruments were established by pre-testing the questionnaires on former union leaders in Pietermaritzburg. The quantitative data was analysed using SPSS and the qualitative data using thematic content analysis. The theoretical framework for the study was provided by Wilson’s (1999) Model of Information Behaviour. The outcome of the study shows that respondents across the nine unions required information when dealing with dismissal cases, workers benefits, retrenchment and workers’ rights. The most used sources of information by union leaders included Employment legislation, the Department of Labour, upper structure leaders, and the Union secretary. The print format was the most preferred format. Lack of information accessibility, information disorganization and information not being updated were identified as major challenges that affected the union leaders’ ability to acquire information that they needed. In terms of information provision, the most used mechanisms to provide information to members were face-to-face communication, Union Secretary reports and television. Lastly, the study reported on the types of information provided by union leadership, which were identified as follows: wage increments, congress resolutions, job advertisements and union campaigns. Recommendations relating to information behaviour and dissemination of union leaders were made. Recommendations included the need for union leaders to be given enough time and be supported with enough information resources to respond to the information needs of their own and of their members and the need for more attention to be given to the use of social media networks as an efficient and effective information dissemination mechanism.